Love Affair Book 1

By: Katelyn Skye


“Huh.”

Emily O’Hara sat in the tall makeup stool before the long mirror and listened to a playlist of classic rock. “Livin’ on a Prayer” faded away and became “Don’t Stop Believing.” It was as if KAEB was channeling Emily’s deepest thoughts and hopes as Shannon scanned her face and settled her gaze on Emily’s eyebrows.

“Let’s see what we can do about those.”

Emily blushed as a pencil went to work above her eyes. She knew that she plucked them too thin. She never had enough left after the end of one month’s expenses to wax them properly, so she settled on tweezers that never caught the stray hairs at the side of her head. And this was a day when she would not only be seen but also photographed. Emily had no real love for her stepsister Kristen, but she couldn’t help but want to be beautiful in the recorded account of Kristen’s wedding day.

Shannon, with her bright red hair courtesy of Manic Panic and tattooed arms, traced once then twice before reaching for her own set of tweezers and removing the flimsy excess. Upon finishing, she took a step back and admired her accomplishment.

“So much better. You know, you’re kind of pretty.”

That was the best compliment that Emily could hope for. She wasn’t Shannon, wild and free. She wasn’t the other bridesmaids with their long blonde hair and classic features. And she certainly wasn’t Kristen, who finished her third glass of champagne before eight o’clock and sat on the highest stool of all as hands fluffed her golden locks and waited to perfect her flawless cheeks.

“Guess it’s time to make me gorgeous,” Kristen said in a blasé tone.

How could she not be terribly excited for this day? From the moment they were forced into sisterhood by way of the second marriage between Emily’s father and Kristen’s mother, Kristen was the one meant for romance. She only had to look at a man for him to fall in love with her.

Just the sight of it made Emily sad. And a bit jealous.

Clad in her flannel PJs, Emily sat beside the maid of honor, an impossibly tall girl with bangs that did what they were supposed to even in the wake of the 6am call, and Emily knew what she was—the outsider. Kristen only sent her the card begging her to be a bridesmaid with the promise of a piece of cake because they were something like sisters. A true sister would have been at her side as she removed every stuffed animal from the shelf above her bed and surrounded her body with the plush toys in an effort to feel something other than alone. Kristen came on the scene once that phase was long past, and the two years that they had actually lived under the same roof was the first time that Emily felt like a second class citizen. It wasn’t exactly a Cinderella situation, but Kristen’s mother, Vanessa Ross-O’Hara, barely made any secret of the fact that her real daughter was preferable to Emily in every way. That was natural. There were ties that could not be denied.

What stung more was the fact that Emily’s father, Martin O’Hara, seemed to share in his new wife’s adoration, and Emily slipped deeper and deeper into the shadows. In those moments, Emily longed for her mother. But Denise O’Hara had lost her battle with cancer, and Emily had spent more hours than she could count talking to her mother’s picture and trying to be the girl that Denise dreamed she could be.

But Emily seemed doomed to sit and just watch life pass her by.

The maid of honor left Emily, pushing one of the hairdressers aside. Emily strained to hear as the girl that Emily knew only as Tara pressed her lips to Kristen’s ear.

“Last chance,” Tara said with a smirk.

Emily couldn’t hear her stepsister’s response, but then the girls’ combined laugher filled the room.

“What’s this?” Vanessa asked as she stepped into the breach. She wore an emerald gown, and her dyed blond hair stood perched in a tight bun above her tense shoulders. Vanessa wanted everything just so. She always wanted everything as close to perfection as possible.

Raucous laughter was not on her preplanned menu.

“Ow!”

Kristen winced at the feel of her mother’s fingers pinching her creamy leg, and Vanessa tapped the girl’s head to put the point on it.

“Try to take this seriously. You’re about to be an Ashton.”

Ashton. Walter Ashton.

Kristen’s intended husband was the heir to a small publishing fortune. When Emily initially learned of the engagement, she groaned from her New Jersey apartment of four small rooms and imagined a man as superficial as her stepsister. They’d have to meet before the big day. It was family. Emily drove the sixty miles to Allentown and parked her car. As soon as she stepped from the vehicle, she stumbled on a bit of gravel and tasted the dirt of the drive in her mouth.

“Hey! You alright?’

Emily felt a hand on her arm, and as she lifted her eyes, she saw a god.

“Are you okay?”

He had light brown hair and warm blue eyes that seemed like mystic pools as he helped her back to her feet. There were the faint beginnings of lines across his brow, but they only added to his stunning appearance. Just his hand on her arm was enough to send a buzz through her entire body that settled between her legs, and it took her a moment to remember how to speak.

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